Germinator Franchise Launches, Then Comes COVID
Using the Germinator, a technician can cover 10,000 square feet in an hour with two coatings, first to disinfect and then to seal so it lasts for 90 days. Customers pay 36 cents per square foot, with a 25 percent discount for quarterly applications.
It's better to be lucky than good, the saying goes. But in the case of six-month-old Germinator Mobile Sanitizing and Disinfecting, founder Jeff Gill figures he's been both.
"Couldn't have timed it any better," he said, about deciding to launch the Germinator franchise January 1, 2020, after five years of intense research into different types of sanitizing products and methods. (He stipulates that he means the timing was fortunate; the virus, of course, is nothing but terrible.)
He was leading the annual conference for his first franchise, Sir Grout, in February, and hearing from his scientific advisory board, which includes epidemiologists, about COVID coming to the United States.
"People were asking me about Germinator. I was telling them, things are going to get really bad. I didn't think this bad, but Germinator is going to be a key part of what is going to happen in the next months," he said.
"March hit, and it was the oddest day. It went from getting a handful of calls a day, to getting 80 to 100," he said. "I was shocked. I didn't know which direction to go, calls were pouring in," from people who wanted their spaces disinfected.
Next the franchise calls came, "by the dozens. We were selective," signing 17 franchisees so far. "I didn't want to get ahead of myself and just sign everybody else up who wanted one."
That number is about to jump to 70, because one of his franchisees is set to do a four-year rollout for all of Texas and New Mexico, he said. We'll have more on that story in an upcoming print edition.
Cost of investment for a Germinator franchise is about $35,000, including equipment, supplies and the $20,000 franchise fee. No financials exist because it's a start-up.
"When I started this, I made a commitment to create an opportunity for people that normally wouldn't be able to afford a franchise, a legitimate one," he said.
Sir Grout, which has 47 units, is still less expensive than many but requires at least $80,000 to get going.
Gill said he does not have degrees in biology or chemistry, as many people ask him when he talks fluently about the science behind his products. "I like things that have untapped potential. I like not knowing what's going to happen," he said.
"I've been self-employed my entire life, other than two years. People ask me why. I'm 58. I tell them, because it's boring knowing what's going to happen."